Acts 1:8 and Youth Evangelism
Here’s an idea that I’ve been kicking around in my head this week. I was thinking of it as a model for youth evangelism, but a friend suggested it could be for evangelism in general. Let me know what you think.
This idea came to me last Sunday. For the last couple of months, I had been thinking about how I could implement growth in our Church’s youth group. Asking the young people to invite their friends wasn’t really working. I would get the reply “but all my friends are already Christian” or “the non-Christians hate me”. We clearly weren’t going to see a lot of fruit from that strategy any time soon.
Not many youth leaders attend the morning family service in any given Church. And if they do, it’s usually because they’re helping out with Sunday School and not sitting in Church. Over the last few months, I’ve noticed something. There are a lot of teenagers at our 10.30am service. Teenagers that don’t go to our youth group (D2). On top of that, there are families at the 10.30 service who have teenagers that don’t go to 10.30 church OR youth group. Here was a great untapped mine of potential youth members!
It got me thinking about Acts 1:8. Jesus, after he’s raised from the dead, is about to leave his disciples and head back to Heaven. But before he leaves, he says this to them: “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” First, they were to tell everyone in Jerusalem about Jesus, all the hard core Jews. Then, the message was to spread to Judea, the Jewish countryside. Then to Samaria, who were kind of related to the Jews, but not quite. Then, once the word about Jesus had gone out to all of those people, then it was to go to the nations – to the Gentiles. To the people who knew nothing of God or his promises.
What if we were to apply that same thinking to how we reach out to youth? What if we started with the youth group. For us, this is a group of about 15-20 young people with 5 leaders. For some it may be as little as one keen person who wants to reach out to teenagers. Imagine the youth group is Jerusalem. Witness to them first. Teach them about Jesus. Grow them in the faith. Make sure they’re being looked after. Now imagine if the congregations of your Church are Judea. Think of all those potential youth members who show up to Church because mum and dad said to, but have no faith of their own.
If you’re an old person like me, you might be charismatic enough to convince that 14 year old boy to come along to youth group. I haven’t had any such luck. What you need is a team of young people to do the work for you. Chances are, there are more than a few teenagers in your youth group who belong to Church families. What if they were to make it their mission to show up to morning Church with their families with the primary mission of making friends with those unassociated teenagers? And once a friendship is built, invite them along to youth group? For those young people who find the idea of inviting friends to youth group daunting, surely inviting friends to youth group who already attend Church would be less stressful!
In this model, I would see Samaria as the non Christian friends of your youth group members and The Ends Of The Earth as non Christians who currently have no contact at all with your ministry. While evangelism to these two groups should continue, I see great advantages in focusing time and effort in those fringe teens who could be won over with a little bit of work.
What do you think?